Homage to Lily B: a Spirit Bird


The Hunter’s Moon marked the end of November this year. By moving her arc northward to shine through the bathroom window, the full moon bathed us, Lily B, my ring-necked dove and me, in her pure white light. He gazed and cooed at her from his perch – a cedar branch built into his open cage that overlooks the granite bones of the mountains while I gave thanks for the end of hunting season…

It is from this location that Lily B. usually follows the beginning of the moon’s journey through the night sky throughout the winter. For the next three months he and I will observe a pure white blossom rising over the northeast horizon. We will bask in her pale blue light, follow her as she climbs over the house and watch her descend below the mountains of the southwestern sky from windows in the opposite side of the house. If the nights are clear Lily begins singing to the moon a night or two before she’s full and continues to praise her until her light begins to wane, a lifetime habit of his that never fails to move me deeply. I often wonder if other doves or birds have a penchant for this blessing of the moon.

But Lily B. (The B is short for boy – I was too attached to his name to change it when I discovered he was a male) loves all kinds of light and this proclivity stretches back twenty – three years to the first year I had him as a dovelet. We have moved many times since then and I have watched him seek the brightest light in each of our dwellings. In his first home he slept on the tip of a tree branch closest to a southeast window. In other places he chose the highest ledge or bookcase always above a lamp or near a glass door. When given the choice he appears to have a preference for light with an eastern exposure and I wonder how much this has to do with his love affair with the moon or perhaps it is also attached to the rising of the sun? These days Lily B. basks under both natural and the artificial plant light in the bathroom. The artificial light keeps him warm as he perches on a gate that separates him from the plant window, but not from his passionflower vine with its fragrant blue flowers. I grew this vine especially for him and have attached its tendrils to a string that stretches across the window over his head so he can tear off bits of leaves to eat at his leisure. Without that gate he would fly into the plants and devour my pink orchid flowers (he loves pink). It is from this gate perch that he brings in the dawn, watches birds during the day and occasionally sings to the moon during the apex of her cycle at eventide. During the summer Lily B. spends his days on the porch, his favorite room in the house because it has windows on three sides. At dusk he flies back into the house to spend the night on his cedar perch.

From the first day I had him, Lily B. exhibited a remarkable habit of being able to read my mind. In the beginning I ignored his cooing in response to my thoughts although I couldn’t help noticing that he was particularly vocal when there was an emotional charge associated with my thinking. I dutifully recorded these strange occurrences in my journal and when I discovered that Biologist Rupert Sheldrake was researching animal – human communication I took a chance and sent him some journal entries. To my great surprise he took these experiences quite seriously, reinforcing my intuitive sense and opening my rational mind to the idea that Lily and I were actually communicating telepathically.

Telepathy says Sheldrake first evolved as a predator –prey survival strategy that allowed animals to communicate over great distances at the speed of light or even faster, no one really knows for sure. Telepathy works most efficiently when there is a powerful relationship between the two communicators as in members of the same family, close friends, between animal companions and their people, or between the hunter and his prey. Humans definitely have this ability, although technology is probably diminishing our sensitivity to its existence even if the taboo around telepathy, presentiment, clairvoyance etc didn’t exist as part of our Newtonian (mechanistic) scientific bias.

Lily B. has had three mates and to my knowledge none of them exhibited telepathic ability. Why Lily B. has this aptitude when the others didn’t still remains a mystery, unless I consider that the closest bond was always between Lily B and me. I loved his mates but not with the same deep emotional attachment that I have for him. I have always considered him to be a “Spirit Bird.” There’s also the fact that having just one telepathic bird would highlight this sixth sense, forcing me to consider that telepathy might exist as a faculty in the natural world and in me, while having a second bird cooing along with Lily might simply create confusion.

In retrospect it is easy to see that Lily B. and Rupert Sheldrake opened the door for me to communicate in non –ordinary ways with other birds and wild animals, which helped me enormously as a naturalist, but for years I struggled mightily to release the hold that western thinking still had on me. The naysaying voice in my mind cut me away from my own experiences again and again reducing them to rubble. It took thousands of “mind-bending” experiences with Lily, my dogs, birds and other animals and my journaling to strengthen my resistance to the skeptic (who in my mind grew into something of a monster/killer) to the point where I could simply ignore him.

After Lily led me through the looking glass I was struck by the thought that air was Lily’s natural element, because Lily is a bird. And that it is the same element of air that may allow energy and information to travel as fast or faster than the speed of light to keep loved ones connected. All that is required is an open heart and a mind that is willing to entertain the possibility…

Lily B.’s continued presence in my life is a gift. After he helped me open the doors of perception the invisible world became a place brimming with possibilities and remains so today unless I get caught in the underworld – the place of “forgetting” who I am. During these sojourns Lily’s cooing reminds me that the other world is out there, and this knowing helps me to bring light into the darkness of my own psyche eventually releasing me from imprisonment.

IMG_2106Lily is an old bird now having lived twice as long as most ring neck doves, and he has been devoted to each of his partners, as well as becoming a steadfast parent, fathering several dovelets. After he lost Lucia and witnessed her burial last summer I worried because I knew how hard it would be to find him another partner. I stayed close to home to keep a close eye on him and was delighted to see that this time he seemed to be recovering on his own. Unlike the other losses that left him bereft, depressed, cooing mournfully (or worse, not making a sound at all) he rallied after the first day by singing up the dawn and pecking his food voraciously. Soon he and I fell into the intimate pattern of relating that we once shared when he was a dovelet. I have fallen in love with Lily B for the second time! And I am treasuring these months. Although there is no way that I can project how Lily will feel in the spring when the mourning doves begin to call, for now at least, he seems perfectly happy in my company.

Every morning Lily begins the day by singing the dogs and I out of our bed. He greets me any time I come in from outdoors and regularly comments on what I am thinking and writing. He sings at odd intervals, and when the moon is full he begins his evensong as we both watch a translucent pearl orb climb over the mountains to illuminate a star cracked sky… It is no wonder that Lily B loves light of all kinds because he is literally a manifestation of Light. And from my perspective, as a “Spirit Bird,” Lily B embodies the light of  the world.

4 thoughts on “Homage to Lily B: a Spirit Bird

  1. I am so glad that you experience that “fullness” because that was my intention. Lily really is a remarkable bird. When I started writing about him I was flooded with so many memories that I couldn’t concentrate – remembering that he taught me more about good fathering than any human ever had, that he celebrated and grieved with me – I could go on and on here and that’s the problem. I’m glad that you caught something of the breadth and depth of our relationship. I feel that it is impossible to do him justice -(I feel the same way about my dogs) – A noteworthy occurrence occurred as I was writing and as Lily was cooing almost continuously – Twice I heard a young male cardinal singing down by the brook – cardinals do not normally sing at this time of year. The “presence” of Something was very strong.


  2. Wow Sara, I had no idea you and Lily B had known each other so long. Everything you have said in this little essay is remarkable, not only for its assertions and stories but also for the musicality of the writing. I love the feel of “translucent pearl orb” when used for the Moon. I also love the interconnectedness you convey between Lily, Moon, Deer, Cardinal, Dogs, You, “Something”. I guess I’m going to have to pay a little more attention when I’m in Lily B’s presence!


  3. Oen, Lily B is a very humble bird so it’s easy to miss his genius! Whatever Nature’s “Something” is I want more of it! Yes Oen, in my world everything is interconnected – this is part of why being alive hooks me so – unless I’m caught in one of those dark places – but then I always know there’s an end out there somewhere. Thank goodness for simple blessings.


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